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Nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school.

Proposed bike network would lead to far more new riders


October 12, 2015

Media Contact: 

Ted Villaire
Active Transportation Alliance
Communications Director 
O: (312) 216-0484
C: (312) 563-1118


Proposed bike network would bring low-stress, comfortable bike routes to vast majority of Chicago residents
180 miles of safe, easy-to-use bike routes would result in a wellspring of new riders


Chicago, Ill: October 12, 2015 — In an effort to make bicycling a comfortable transportation option for everyone, the Active Transportation Alliance today released a bold new vision for cycling infrastructure in Chicago. 

The vision — called Bikeways for All — puts forth a plan for creating an equitable, city-wide bicycling network that would allow people of all ages and abilities to get around efficiently and comfortably on a bike.  

About one-third of Chicagoans live within a quarter mile of a low-stress bike route today. If all the routes in Bikeways for All are completed, 80 percent of Chicagoans would live within one quarter mile of a low-stress bike route.

“Bicycling in Chicago is being transformed into a mainstream mode of transportation, thanks in large part to investments made by city leaders in new trails, Divvy bike sharing and the addition of 100 miles of new bikeways since 2011,” said Ron Burke, executive director of Active Trans. “Even though the number of people cycling has multiplied, we still have a long way to go before the average person feels safe and comfortable getting on a bike to ride to work, run errands and drop off kids at school.” 

In 2010, Active Trans first proposed to then-mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel the notion of building 100 miles of advanced bike lanes by 2015. Now that this major goal has been accomplished, it’s a perfect time to introduce a new five year goal focusing on 100 miles of protected bike lanes and Neighborhood Greenways. 

While this report proposes 180 miles of new low-stress bike routes, Active Trans is urging city leaders to commit to building 100 of those miles by 2020.  

“Fear of bicycling in traffic is the main obstacle that prevents more Chicagoans from getting on bikes,” said Burke. “If we create an efficient system of bike routes designed to make average riders feel safe, we’d see a massive surge in the ranks of people biking.”

The Bikeways for All routes would shrink fears of biking significantly because the routes would incorporate infrastructure proven to make newcomers to biking feel safe: 

>> Neighborhood Greenways: quiet streets enhanced for bicycle travel by calming car traffic and discouraging cut-through driving. 

>> Protected bike lanes: key streets between neighborhoods using physically protected bike lanes to create an experience similar to riding on an off-street trail.

>> Off-street trails: the ultimate low-stress biking experience, recommended along the lakefront (to relieve congestion on the existing trail), the Chicago River, abandoned rail lines and other corridors.

The report proposes five-year goals and longer-term goals for each of these three types of bikeways.

New biking infrastructure offers an excellent return on investment. With the allocation of a modest amount of local resources, Chicago is able to leverage federal funds for many of the types of projects included in Bikeways for All. Currently, the Chicago Department of Transportation puts less than 0.5 percent of its annual budget toward on-street bike infrastructure. 

Most of the routes highlighted in Bikeways for All were drawn from Chicago’s current bike plan, Streets for Cycling 2020. Guidance on the routes was also provided by a diverse group of neighborhood leaders, community-based organizations, bicycle advocates, transportation professionals and by more than 700 residents throughout the city who provided input on a survey.

Read the Bikeways for All executive summary or the full Bikeways for All report. 

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The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. Formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit or call 312.427.3325.